UPDATE: Zhang Ziyi ("The Grandmaster") is in talks to return as her character Jen Yu in flashback sequences for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- The Green Destiny," reports Entertainment Weekly. The Weinstein Co. is developing the sequel, which is penned by John Fusco ("Hidalgo"). Action star Michelle Yeoh is also on board, returning as Yu Shu Lien, with Donnie Yen set to play Silent Wolf.
Legendary martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo Ping (whose choreography is on ravishing display in Wong Kar Wai's "The Grandmaster") will helm the film. (SPOILER ALERT: Chow Yun-Fat can't return, as he dies at the end of the original film.)
EARLIER: Without Ang Lee or Sony, the Weinstein Company is starting production of a sequel to the Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which earned six Oscar nominations including best picture and grossed $213.5 million million worldwide. Its $128 million stateside gross made it the highest grossing foreign-language film in American history. The Weinsteins have done well in the past with such Asian films as "Hero" and "Iron Monkey," which is directed by famed martial arts choreographer and director director Yuen Wo Ping, who will direct a returning Michelle Yeoh and star Donnie Yen (Silent Wolf) in the sequel. Harvey Weinstein, Yuen and Yen will be participating in a press conference on Saturday in Cannes to discuss the production.
The screenplay is based on "Iron Knight, Silver Vase" by Wang Du Lu, book 5 in the "Crane-Iron Pentalogy" series, on which the original film was based. The screenplay is written by John Fusco, who has had experience working on tricky Chinese co-productions such as "Forbidden Kingdom" and will be produced by Harvey Weinstein and David Thwaites, co-produced by Johnny Levin with Executive Producer Anthony Wong. Yucaipa Films is co-financing the project.
"Crouching Tiger" was a unique cross-cultural event, as American screenwriter James Schamus collaborated on the original Chinese language screenplay, helping to westernize it for the world stage, and Taiwan-born Lee --who happens to be on this year's Cannes jury--was also able to translate the film into a globally accessible epic entertainment. This production has the earmarks of a more Asia-centric project. "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II --The Green Destiny" will begin in March 2014 in Asia. Famed martial arts choreographer and director Yuen Wo Ping is set to direct with Donnie Yen starring as Silent Wolf and Michelle Yeoh returning as Yu Shu Lien.
“I loved Ang Lee's film,” TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said diplomatically. “I thought it was a master class in directing, but I know we are in fantastic hands with Yuen Wo Ping directing the second installment of 'Crouching Tiger.' Master Yuen worked with me on 'Iron Monkey,' 'Kill Bill," and now 'Grandmaster.' He is a first-class director and choreographer, and I am thrilled to be teaming up with him once more. With John Fusco's incredible script and the dream team of Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh we are in great shape.”
"My sister and I and our families sincerely appreciate that Harvey and TWC stayed committed to bringing my father's works to the screen for the enjoyment of audiences around the world," said Wang Hong, son of late author Wang Du Lu. "My father created timeless characters and stories of universal appeal. They remain no less relevant today. Through great filmmaking, another generation will get to experience them."